Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Marni D. Sheppeard

Friday, January 18, 2008

How Time Flies II

Schroedinger, in his famous Dublin lectures of 1944, discussed the clockwork nature of life, and he demonstrated that new laws of physics would be required to really understand the function of genes, whose mutations occur via a single quantum molecular transition between isomers and yet may be transmitted faithfully through centuries. He also discusses how organisms feed on negative entropy (order) in their environment.
...the new principle that is involved is a genuinely physical one: it is, in my opinion, nothing else than the principle of quantum theory over again... We seem to arrive at the ridiculous conclusion that the clue to the understanding of life is that it is based on a pure mechanism, a clockwork in the sense of Planck's paper [1].
Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of Planck's paper, which might be interesting to look at as a very early discussion on the differences in physical law at different scales. But observe that life, as observed on a fixed scale, requires both kind of law, that governing the large, and that governing the small.

[1] M. Planck, The dynamical and the statistical type of law

4 Comments:

Blogger nige said...

I think the non-mechanism based Copenhagen Interpretation and the M-theory multiverse consisting of a landscape of 10^500 metastable vacua are retreats of mysticism within modern physics. Both are "not even wrong".

The hatred directed towards mechanisms that are successful by most modern physicists - including relatives of mine who graduated in physics and believe religiously that physics is purely abstract mathematics and had no underlying physical dynamics, no underlying mechanisms, no underlying reality, etc., is due to religious bigotry.

Those people abuse modern mainstream physics by believing in it as an alternative to a religion. They change the definition of science so their understanding of science becomes religious orthodoxy, the authority of so many people, the groupthink which says that having a large number of supporters to help censor critics is the same thing as being scientifically right.

"... He also discusses how organisms feed on negative entropy (order) in their environment. ..."

I read that Schroedinger book ages ago and it was really awful. Anyone who quantifies order as "entropy" by numbers, is a bit crazy (it seems to me), because quantifying order is not so important: order is a qualitative attribute, not really a numerical one. I.e., what counts is whether the thing that is ordered is important or not.

As far as I'm concerned, it simply doesn't matter how ordered a pile of dirty laundry is. It's far more important that a computer database search engine is well ordered so you can find what you're looking for, than that you can easily locate a particular item of dirty laundry.

I don't like the idea of using one standard definition of entropy and using it to produce numerical calculations of the amount of disorder in different systems. There are not only issues about the relative value of different types of disorder, but there are also too many ways to define what disorder is even if all types of disorder were equivalent in value. E.g., I can order atoms according to the number of protons or according to the atomic weight (which will be a different order, because of isotopes with different numbers of neutrons per proton in the nucleus). So you get ambiguity. Entropy is just not a natural way to count things: things can be ordered according to too many different criteria to make it a useful concept generally. In thermodynamics it has some uses but I'd make the case that it causes more confusion and side tracks physicists into calculating useless stuff about black hole entropy which they can't check experimentally. (They then claim they're doing physics, when it's just religion.)

January 18, 2008 12:09 PM  
Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

I agree with Nige that the view about information/order as a local lack of disorder is incorrect. Second point: if you have a logical paradox you cannot interpret it away.

On the positive side hy message is the strong feeling that TGD inspired quantum biology allows to grasp the real function of DNA. DNA would be a topological quantum computer. For a top-down summary see this. Chemical gene expression - often thought to be the basic function of DNA - would be only one manner to print the output of tqc.

The strategy in developing the model has been simple: free imagination constrained by the consistency with the big picture of TGD and with the empirical constraints. Very general assumptions about tqc lead to a rather detailed model about how tqc should take place and lead to a bundle of immediately testable predictions about DNA and mRNA itself.

1. Braids would be represented as (color) magnetic flux tubes defining the magnetic body of DNA. Braid strands would carry color (A,T,C,G). The old idea of wormhole magnetic field finally finds a proper place in the picture (wormhole throats have elementary particle size and carry quark and antiquark quantum numbers).

2. Darwinian selection identified as dissipation selecting asymptotic self-organization patterns in the presence of metabolic energy feed should determine the surviving tqc programs. Dissipation would transform from a curse to blessing. Fluid flow should induce braidings by carrying flux tubes with them.

The detailed mechanism would be following. Nucleotides would be connected by (color) magnetic flux tubes to cell membranes and traverse through them. Lipids stuck to tubes would be the dancers defining timelike tqc pattern (cell membrane is liquid crystal). Hydrophilic ends anchoring the lipids to liquid flow would translate them to braidings so that self organization patters for liquid flow would define the tqc programs.

3. Braiding would result when the flux tubes at membranes are temporarily cut and isolate the system magnetically from the external world. Tqc as a dance pattern of lipids (timelike braiding) is coded to the space-like braiding representing the tqc program in memory. Tqc halts as strands reconnect: this makes also possible the communication of the outcome to external world.

4. EEG patterns, various chemical rates, etc. define the 4-D (this is essential) representation of outcome at space-time sheets defining the tempiral and spatial scale hierarchy of computations.

5. An ensemble of tqc results automaticaly at each level of scale hierarchy as required by the fact that tqc predictions are coded to probability distributions. Scale hierarchies (p-adic and Planck constant) correspond to sub-program hierarchies with the outcome of higher level defining the input parameters of submodules.

6. The transformation changing hbar are key element of picture. For instance, the reduction of hbar for dark braid strands connecting biomolecules brings them close to each other. Thus the magic ability of biomolecules to find each other would have a simple explanation: "rubber bands" able to increase their tension connect them! In time direction the change of hbar would create scaled variants of tqc programs. For instance "stories", scaled down representations for memories would result (one century summarized in single minute story) become possible.


7. The hypothesis that A,T, C, G corresponds to 4-color characterizing braid strands, leads to the picture in which pairs of quark and antiquark (u,d and their antiquarks) code for A,T,C,G. This is possible in TGD Universe. Surprsingly, DNA counterparts for strong isospin symmetry, its breaking, and breaking of matter antimatter asymmetry emerge at DNA/quark level when the model is compared with known regularities of genetic code and actual data from gene banks.

January 18, 2008 5:01 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

Schrodinger explains that he's being vague for the purposes of reaching a wider audience. He says he would rather discuss free energy if he was talking only to physicists.

January 18, 2008 5:04 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

The actual title of Planck's essay is "Dynamical Laws and Statistical Laws", and it can be found in his A Survey of Physical Theory.

January 21, 2008 3:40 PM  

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